Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Driving the Amalfi Coast

Paige and Julia's second day in Naples was predicted to be the prettiest. We decided it was the perfect day for our drive down the Amalfi Coast with a stop in Positano for lunch and shopping. Years ago, I'd taken the train to Sorrento, then boarded a Positano-bound bus so crowded that I couldn't actually see the views out the window. That was probably a good thing. As I drove the coast road in my own car, I found it to be pleasant and beautiful - not so for the bus passengers as I watched large buses careen around corners at full speed. Those passengers probably couldn't even see the wall that protected us normal cars from a sheer drop-off. In fact, the only difficulty in my drive was in not knowing if one of those behemoths was going to whip around the oncoming curve in my lane -  if that happened, giant bus or rock wall were my options, so it was a lose-lose situation.

Thankfully, the road through and over the mountain was cordoned off for construction, forcing my GPS to recalculate. She then took us on a beautiful, coastal drive, through some lovely small towns hanging onto the cliffside. There was quite a bit of traffic, which I'd heard about for this road, but given the time of year and time of day, I'm tempted to think it was more due to the major road construction forcing all the cars onto this one, two lane road that winds through towns. After several picture taking stops, we made it to Positano. Nathan and I have become "early parkers." The stress of not knowing a place and it's parking options, and given the many situations we've gotten into on one-way, dead end alleys with no place to turn around, we're now a little too quick to park at the first available spot. This day, we found a pay parking lot that seemed to be on the edge of town, and I grabbed a spot. Then we walked and walked and walked...and walked...to the real edge of town, where there was a lovely, empty, pay parking lot for the exact same price.

Positano is possibly the most photographed town on the Amalfi Coast. It has houses stacked atop each other as they climb up the mountain, a beautiful dome on it's church that is perfectly situated for photo ops, a large beach, and restaurants with great views. The town has a pedestrian zone lined with shops selling beachwear, Italian style. Rather than tacky T-shirts and rubber flip-flops, we browsed shops filled with flowing, linen blouses and pants, jewel-encrusted sandals, and designer sunglasses. Possibly the best shop in all of Positano is Il Limoncello di Positano- bottles and bottles of their own, organic limoncello. We've only lived in Italy for seven months, so I'm certainly no limoncello expert, but I can say that this limoncello is the best so far - smooth and sweet, it avoids the medicinal, cough syrup feel that some limoncellos have.

Our goal for the day was relaxation while still experiencing Italy. To that end, we made our way down the pedestrian only street to the beach and promptly found a table about 10 feet from where the sand began. While we lingered over our lunch, the couple next to us were downright squatters. They were there when we arrived with wine glasses in front of them. About halfway through our meal, they ordered food. When we left, over an hour later, they'd just ordered more wine. I can't think of a better way to spend an afternoon in Positano than in enjoying the view, sipping a local wine, and occasionally sampling the restaurant's food or gelato. And here's the great thing about Italian restaurants...that is completely okay. Sit at your table for four hours. Do absolutely nothing. Nursing your drink for an hour does not send the server into a tizzy of confusion and ever increasing stops at your table to try to rush you along. On the contrary, when the server has a break, it's more likely he'll return to you for a little chat and some downtime himself (usually a him - female servers do exist, but they're a rare species).
What better way to have lunch with a friend?
After a little more shopping, we headed back up to the car (notice in the pictures how Positano grows up, not out - when walking in Positano, you're either walking up or down, and when you're feet are tired, it always seems to be up). Returning the way we came gave us some final glimpses of one of the world's most beautiful, coast roads.

1 comment:

  1. Happy trip